FOXBORO, Mass. — Brandon LaFell admits that he’s still not as comfortable in the New England Patriots offense as he wants to be, but it’s not for a lack of trying from quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady is constantly putting in extra work with the Patriots receiver during practice. LaFell’s locker is situated directly to the left of Brady’s, so the two players are constantly talking on and off the field.
“If he sees me standing around, I’m not doing anything, if it’s a special teams period I’m not involved in, ‘Hey LaFell, let’s go. Let’s go to the other field.’ Run whatever routes they got me running that week,” LaFell said Friday in the Patriots locker room.
LaFell, who signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Patriots in free agency, has yet to make his first reception with the Patriots. He was targeted six times in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins but wasn’t able to haul in a pass, and he was on the field for 38 snaps against the Minnesota Vikings, but he was used as a blocker on 25 of those.
“I think I’ve been getting open, but at the same time I’m getting open, other guys like (Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski) — they’ve been open too,” LaFell said. “You can’t complain when you’re not getting the ball and other guys are open, and they’re getting the ball.”
LaFell has been tasked with running deeper routes in the Patriots’ offense, and Brady has been forced to get rid of the ball quickly because of incoming pressure, allowed by a struggling offensive line. LaFell could start to shine if Brady is allowed more time for LaFell to get open at the top of his route.
LaFell said he wouldn’t mind getting more targets, but he understands that the strength of the Patriots’ offense is to exploit the opposing defense.
“Man, like any other receiver, I’d like to get the ball every snap if I can,” LaFell said. “But within this offense, we just go out there, and we just do whatever the defense gives us. If the defense comes out there and allows us to run the ball, we’re gonna run it down their throat. If they get back there and try to stuff the box, we’re gonna throw the ball.”
LaFell and fellow wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins are competing for two active spots on the Patriots’ roster every Sunday. Dobson was inactive Week 1 and Thompkins sat out Week 2. The Patriots’ offense has yet to fully jell, but that might come this week against a struggling Oakland Raiders defense. It will help when LaFell feels fully acclimated, as well.
“I think the guys that have been here, they got a better understanding of where Tom wants them to be — more so than me,” LaFell said. “I think I’m getting there. The more reps I get in practice, I think I’m getting there. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I think I’m getting there.”
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